A Utah mayor who was also serving as a National Guard major tasked with training commandos in Afghanistan has been shot dead in a suspected inside attack. Brent Taylor, 39, had taken a year out of his duties as mayor of North Ogden, near Salt Lake City, in order to serve his country in the Middle East.
Deployed to Afghanistan as a military intelligence officer with Joint Force Headquarters, Taylor was expected to return to his post as mayor in January. Tragically, he never made it home. Another American soldier was wounded in the attack, though no details have yet been released on their identity. Military officials have reported that Taylor was shot dead by small arms fire while training troops.
Maj. Gen. Jefferson S. Burton, the adjutant general of the Utah National Guard said Taylor “was with folks he was helping and training” when the tragedy occurred, according to Bloomberg. “That’s what’s so painful about this. It’s bitter,” he added. “I do believe that Major Taylor felt he was among friends, with people he was working with.”
Reports indicate that the attacker was part of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and was immediately shot dead by other Afghan members shortly after the attack began. The Defense Department has stated that the incident is under investigation at this time.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said the mayor “was there to help.”
“He was a leader,” he added. “He loved the people of Afghanistan. This is a sad day for Utah, for America.”
I am heartbroken at the loss of Major Brent Taylor. Our deepest condolences and constant prayers are with his wife Jennie, his children and the entire Taylor family. All of Utah mourns with you. pic.twitter.com/Ib9oysyDCN
— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) November 4, 2018
Achingly, Taylor leaves behind a wife and seven children. “Brent was a hero, a patriot, a wonderful father, and a dear friend,” added U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said on Twitter. “News of his death in Afghanistan is devastating. My prayers and love are with Jennie and his seven young children. His service will always be remembered.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help Brent’s family in the wake of his untimely death.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 4, 2018
“Brent Taylor, Mayor of North Ogden, was killed in Afghanistan today. Mayor Taylor was a hero in every sense of the word. He believed in his community, his country and in selfless service to his fellowman. He truly belonged to all of us in the community, but he ultimately belongs to Jennie and his seven amazing children,” reads a description posted to the fundraising page.
Major Brent Taylor’s last message to me was: “Going great over here. Can’t wait to be home in a few months.” I can’t believe we have lost this incredible husband, father, mayor, patriot, and friend. #utpol #hero pic.twitter.com/BpVEeVfA9A
— Michael Mower (@MikeLMower) November 3, 2018
“At this time we cannot take away the loss for Jennie and his children but we can ease some of her financial burdens which will be with her for the rest of her life. Please help us thank Mayor Taylor for giving the ultimate sacrifice to his country. Knowing his family is being taken care of financially will matter to Brent. Please help us reach our goal, it is a lofty goal, but that is how our Mayor lived his life…setting lofty goals.”
Despite an increasingly resurgent Taliban once again threatening Afghan society with violence and bloodshed, Taylor remained optimistic that the war-torn nation could see brighter days. In his final Facebook post before his death, the military man highlighted the tremendous blessing of engaging in a fair and democratic electoral process. In the wake of the most recent Afghan elections, Taylor said the high turnout was “a success for the long-suffering people of Afghanistan and for the cause of human freedom.”
Utah mayor Brent Taylor, a National Guardsman who was killed in Afghanistan this weekend, wrote this in his last Facebook post.
People risked their lives during elections in Iraq and Afghanistan. Don't take democracy for granted…get out and vote. pic.twitter.com/ZFUUEV7Ido
— Crispin Burke (@CrispinBurke) November 4, 2018
Afghanistan, however, still faces an enormous uphill battle against Taliban rebels, who desire to place a stranglehold on the Afghan people. Early Monday, the Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement launched a bomb attack at a new checkpoint in eastern Ghazni province, according to TIME. Some 13 soldiers and policemen were killed, with several others from the government’s security forces being ambushed on their way to the scene.
The brutal militants continue to enjoy widespread support in its home nation of Pakistan. This weekend, thousands of radicals gathered for the funeral of the “Father of the Taliban,” Maulana Sami ul-Haq, who was killed on Friday outside Islamabad. According to reports, Sami ul-Haq was discovered in bed with several stab and gunshot wounds. Haq was the head of the Haqqania madrassa, an Islamic seminary where many Taliban members have studied, including the group’s founder, Mullah Omar.
Since 2001, almost 2,500 U.S. service personnel have lost their lives during the course of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. Utah Lt Gov Spencer J Cox was first to break the news of Taylor’s death, stating on Facebook: “North Ogden mayor Brent Taylor was killed today while serving in Afghanistan.”
“I hate this,” he added. “I’m struggling for words. I love Mayor Taylor, his amazing wife Jennie and his seven sweet kids. Utah weeps for them today. This war has once again cost us the best blood of a generation. We must rally around his family.”
Former Republican Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who is running to represent his home state of Utah in the Senate, tweeted that he was “heartbroken by the tragic news. “A father of 7 small children, a city mayor, and a proud member of the Army National Guard. Another unmeasurable price is paid for freedom,” he added.
The brutal attack comes just a couple weeks after US Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley, who oversees the NATO military advisory mission in southern Afghanistan, was wounded in a similar inside attack. The Taliban claimed responsibility for this attack, which claimed the life of the Kandahar’s chief of police, Gen. Abdul Raziq Achakzai, according to CNN.
So far, over $210,000 has been raised. Do pray for Taylor’s family as they grieve this monumental loss.